Review: The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy

The Worlds Wife Carol Ann Duffy

It’s not often that I find a full collection of poetry by a poet to intrigue me. I normally find two or three that catch my eye, but I find I prefer to read a breadth of poets. However, every so often I come across a collection that is so well collated and has a brilliant meaning that I can’t help but get excited by reading it.

Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife does just that. The collection takes figures from factual, fictional, mythical and fairy tale history, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Dr. Faustus and Freud, and creates a feminist viewpoint. The poems are written from the view of these figures (if they are already female), their wife’s or have been portrayed as female themselves (The Kray Sisters). The poems can be sinister like Mrs Faust or romantic like Anne Hathaway and are chosen for the topic of discussion of many academic curriculum because of their feminist approach.

My favourite of the collection has to be Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare’s romances have wooed us all for just under 400 years. Whether they end tragically or romantically, we remember them because of his lyrical writing skill and I think Duffy attempts to imitate this with her extended metaphor for Shakespeare’s work and their sex life. He bequeathed his wife their second best bed and the poem stems from this one line of his will; this is one of the reasons I love this poem so much.

Anyone that knows me personally is aware that my favourite Disney film is The Beauty and the Beast. So naturally, I was very intrigued by Duffy’s take on the tale, in the form of Mrs Beast. This poem was quite a refreshing surpise for me with cameos from The Little Mermaid and Goldilocks etc. It takes the Prince and Princess ‘lifestyle’ and bears all its hidden animosity. Claiming that sex with the Beast is better, Duffy uses fairytales to bring to light the truth about love and how you should see all the sides to a person before you get into a complex relationship with them.

These are just a couple of the poems that I found stuck out for me in the collection, but there are plenty more brilliant pieces, such as Little Red Cap and Mrs Midas, that I also really enjoyed and suggest you check out.

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